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MP sheds light on high-profile human trafficking case, head officer in exile in Australia

Petch Petpailin

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A video call with Paween Pongsiri | Photo via Rangsiman Rome - รังสิมันต์ โรม Facebook page

The story of a major human trafficking case involving Rohingya people being trafficked through Thailand and to the Malaysian border was brought back to light after an MP told another side of the story. During a general debate in parliament, he discussed how a former police officer, who is now living in exile in Australia, led the investigation which then led to the arrests of 75 people.

The investigation started in 2015 when security forces found a camp in Songkhla which housed Rohingya migrants who are said to be victims of a human trafficking gang. Mass graves with the bodies of refugees were later found at camps in the Southern border region, many said to have died from starvation. Some tortured.

Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome claimed that former Police Major General Paween Pongsiri officer fled Thailand after working on the case because many influential people and senior officials were involved.

Rangsiman brought up the report from the case which said some migrants had paid 10,000 to even 70,000 baht to be transported from Myanmar to Malaysia, but they ended up at the camp where they were abused. Some say they were tortured, women were raped, some were sold into slavery, and many were left to die at the camp. According to the report, this had been going on for 10 years.

The MP told the story of how Paween led an investigation, discovering that many residents, local politicians, police officers, soldiers, and other influential persons were behind the camp and trafficking operations. One of the most high-profile suspects was former lieutenant general Manas Kongpan.

Paween was ordered to transfer to the “Deep South” provinces to investigate further, but he asked the national police chief to reconsider his transfer as his life would be in danger in the south. The plea was rejected. With so many powerful and influential people involved in the trafficking operation, the MP says Paween decided to resign from his position and later moved to Australia for his own safety.

According to Thai PBS World, Paween spoke to a member of the Progressive Movement saying he was happy his story was told.

“Today is one of my happiest days. It is the story of my hardship, which has brought me nothing but stress since I escaped from Thailand six years, three months and three days ago.”

Many Thais have been discussing the case since the MP’s statement, sharing the hashtag on social media #ค้ามนุษย์ which translates to “human trafficking.”

SOURCE: Sanook | Rangsiman Rome – รังสิมันต์ โรม

 

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    Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger focusing on Thai news and what's happening in Thailand. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp.

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